New Year, New Biz
Thinking about starting your own business but don't know where to begin? We've put together top tips and tricks to become a budding entrepreneur.
Ever felt like going it alone and becoming your own boss? It’s something that many people dream of, but often the reality of making the jump to setting up your own business or going self-employed can be a daunting prospect – even for the savviest of individuals.
So, to help you with that quest we’ve put together our guide of top tips and spoke to some experts and independent business owners around the counties for their advice. Live that dream!
While the lure of working from the confines of your cosy king-size may be one of the things people envision when starting their own venture, this can be an absolute productivity killer. Add to that, storing things like stock and having space to meet clients, it becomes quite obvious that you may need to upgrade your space for your new start-up.
We’re super lucky to live in a time where most cafes, and even pubs (woohoo!), have free wi-fi, so even getting out of the house and working from one of these is a great place to start (pssst… check out our Fun Finder for some nice spots to set up with a flat white and your emails).
Alternatively, if you need somewhere a bit more formal there are now lots of co-working spaces designed specifically for the self-employed and remote businesses, such as Hampshire-based IncuHive, who have spaces in Winchester, New Milton and Chandlers Ford. They even have their very own storage space near Marwell and a nano-brewery at the Chandlers Ford site for a swift post-work drink.
The great thing about co-working and desk/office space suppliers is that for your money you will get all that boring stuff is thrown in – Internet, heating, facilities etc. so you can have everything at one cost. Simple!
It’s often said that a decent accountant will always save you more money than you spend. Not to mention they can give you the definitive answers on certain aspects of things like payroll, pensions (and they’ll even phone up HMRC for you which is a gift in itself!) There are lots of local firms (such as Scott Bailey) who offer impartial advice at start-up costs to get you started.
One good habit to get into is to take photos of all your receipts. Currently, you’re meant to retain all receipts for at least 5 years after tax deadline day but the reality is that you end up with a mountain of paperwork and things getting lost. Having a digital copy stashed on your computer will stop you having sleepless nights.
Claire and Clare, from KookyTwo Jewellery, suggest investing in online accounting software: ‘Early on we invested in using an online accounting system, which has been so helpful in documenting and checking everything for our annual tax return. Our accountant loves that we use it too.’
One of the biggest mental hurdles when starting out is the legal side of things. You can Google as much as you like but it really is pertinent to get yourself some proper advice from the outset. Not only will it stop anything untoward happening in the present, but it should stop anything coming back to haunt you when you’ve made your billions and are sunning yourself on a yacht in St. Tropez.
Branding and Marketing
For many, your website and branding will be your shop window. It’s the first impression you’ll make on people and it’s imperative to get it right.
Then, there is social media, and as much as we dream of our entire marketing activity involving snapping a pretty picture, sticking on some hashtags and waiting for the orders to fly in, there’s a bit more structure and science to it than that.
It’s worth getting your branding together in one hit and hiring a company to help you out from the start (we particularly love Shadowcat Creative’s work). Even if they don’t do your entire marketing and branding, their knowledge and expertise can help point you in the right direction so you have a clear and concise message and offering from the start.
If you feel like you need a bit of additional support but don’t have a business partner to turn to, then hiring a business coach could be a good choice for you. This is effectively someone you bring in that can mentor you, give advice and help you to bounce ideas off. They are honest and a fresh set of eyes, plus they are often successful business people in their own right – a wealth of knowledge when you’re just starting out.
Networking as well is a key part of today’s business world and it’s no longer ‘Here’s my card’ over warm glasses of cheap wine anymore.
Business coach Trudy Simmons says: ‘Networking is an incredibly important part of any business, but it is also an important part of our mental well being…There is also the loneliness that comes with working alone… find and engage in local networking groups to find your “tribe” of people that lift you up and motivate you.’
Groups like Trudy’s Hampshire Women’s Business Group are great for meeting other likeminded individuals, forming working relationships (and even friendships) as well as sharing advice and best practice.